The Extinction of Iraqi Minorities: Challenge or Catastrophe?


Mokhtar Lamani


Since the formation of Sumer, one of the earliest urban civilizations, the Mesopotamian region has been home to dozens of ethnicities and religions, which together formed a unique but delicate cultural, religious and social mosaic. For thousands of years, under countless regimes and through successive conflicts, these minority groups have persisted and enriched Iraq's social mosaic, and became an important aspect of the modern Iraq’s identity. The ongoing sectarian violence and the inability of the current Iraqi leadership to achieve national reconciliation and to establish a secure social environment have threatened to destroy the country’s unique historical properties. Iraqi minorities are experiencing a disproportionate amount of violence and social instability that offers permanent exodus as the only solution to escape these woes. Having served as the Arab League Ambassador and Special Envoy to Iraq, Lamani will examine the ongoing situation in order to draw various conclusions and to assess the current direction of events. Also offered in this chapter are suggestions that may help to alleviate the very difficult circumstances in which Iraqi minorities are finding themselves.


Mokhtar Lamani, a Moroccan diplomat and former ambassador of the Arab League to Iraq, is currently a visiting IDRC (International Development Research Centre) senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ontario. Prior to his position as Special Representative, Lamani was visiting lecturer at universities across the West and Islamic regions from 2005-2006. As Ambassador of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to the United Nations from 1998-2004, he represented the OIC to the UN and Coordinator of the OIC group in New York. His distinguished career in international diplomacy includes a number of positions with the General Secretariat and with the Arab League, including Deputy Permanent Observer to the UN, Officer in Charge of Iraq-Kuwait dispute, Coordinator of Secretariat Reform, and Coordinator of the Euro-Arab Dialogue and Afro-Arab Cooperation. Lamani holds an M.A. in European Studies from Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, and a B.A. in International Law from Université Hassan II, Morocco. Among his other writings are: A Year of Frustration and Despair,” “I only know of one duty. That is to love,” and “The Iraqi Crisis and Efforts Wasted.”

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